Month: June 2015

Learning how to design learning experiences with Grainne Conole

As part of the Digital Week celebrated at Bath Spa university Grainne Conole, the chair of the Institute for Education, gave a workshop on Learning Design, it is about how to design learning experiences based in a methodology developed by her at the OU in the past. Technology can support learning and there is lots of lots available in the web. The technologies are not always good exploited. Some things people say against using technology is that it makes them confused, they are time consuming, they feel overwhelmed, they do not have the time, etc. In my view the use of technologies, particularly web-based technologies is something that is getting more and more an unavoidable skill to learn. I do not see it as an isolated task where we need to set aside hours of the day, I think it is an ongoing journey of discovery and enjoynment when finding interesting activities that are mediated through a particular tool or a particular activity involving a bit of use. The research says that not only teachers, lecturers, or other member of staff struggle with keeping up to date but also students do. Although they are very social and part -particularly the youngest one- of a participatory culture as Jenkins would say, they do struggle to be digital literate in a more formal setting. Being social and techi savvy in their daily lives do not imply that they have a wide knowledge of tools and their possible uses for their learning experience. My idea is that if we work together in improving our digital literacy something good and productive will come out of it.

This approach to learning design is a holistic one with more influence from Europe and Australian and less from the US. Guidance, visualisation and sharing are the key points in this LD approach. It is a designed based approach intended to move away from the beliefs approach.

An idea I liked very much is that of design being a sort of music score which not only transmit the notes which makes a particular piece of music but also the tempo, the rhythm. Learning design is about visualisation and envisioning, it is a powerful way to represent learning activities and the overall vision of the course. Let us see the steps of the design process. Underlying the structure of the course are the 7 Cs for learning which I illustrated as you can see below.

7 Cs LDesign photo (4)

Vision of the course: It is thinking about how do I encourage participants to do what I have envisioned for the course. If it is about collaboration then how will I encourage them to collaborate and communicate, how I want them to assess the course and their participation. This is done with cards that are provided in the workshop. The cards contain the core principles (online, portfolio, practice based, innovative for the student,etc) we need to classify them in 3 columns: very important, more or less important and not important at all. One the table is set with the cards the vision is already developed.

Some notes about resources for the classroom

  1. Discussion forum (Students could rate the best threat and for that they need to read all of them,
  2. blogs: Reflection, note taking, peer blogs, sharing information or thoughts, can be shared or personal
  3. wikis: co-construction of knowledge, like a log book for a course, alterantive reference resource for courses, to build a cohort resource, collaboration, using existing as critical resource, students and self esteem. Greainee’s broad structure:  structured  debate forum relfection blogss and construct resources wiki
photo (6)

The next step was to state the different resources and activities that will be addressed in the course.

Grainne introduced Cloudwork, a space to design the e-tivities for the course using a template they provide there (you need to create an account to access the tool).

In order to design the activities two links can be helpful. Bloom’s revisited learning taxonomy with a very helpful 3D interactive ladder and there is a digital taxonomy which is of course also very useful and a little bit of theoretical background of Bigg’s constructive alignment, a theory to design learning experiences and an interesting view on assessment.
Once the activities are ready we made a chart where thephoto (7) assessment was included.

More like a big picture were we could see the timing, the activities, the inputs we are giving students, what they need to look for and produce and how it is going to be assessed.

Reflections to close the course was done with 4 post-it in the wall, I loved it!!

  1. Action plan: What are you doing as a result of the workshop
  2. Room for improvement
  3. Thinks that I liked
  4. 3 words to describe the workshopplaying around with scenario

The picture on the right is a draft I did creating a scenario for the learning experience I have in mind. It was a playful exercise that helped me to consider many elements of the learner and her/his context.

It was a very useful workshop with many interesting new insights and useful information for all the participants

Learning and teaching practice experts group meeting (Jisc)

Funny enough all the adults are not staring at the speakers face, people are doing different activities and more of them are through their smart devices. Some are twitting, others are taking notes, others are writing some letters or answering emails, and so on.The session is full of academics or member of staff of HE and FE institutions who many times complain about students getting distracted with their devices while in the classroom. So what is happening? Why is it fine and acceptable that they multitask but not their students? I had to laugh!

Topic of this session:

  • Helen Beetham started the session with her work on digital student sharing the findings in relation to a new category that emerged from the study: digital wellbeing. It seems to me the digital environment is taking over every aspect of citizens’ life. The digital space is inhabited in a daily basis and we are creating so much in that space. How is this space mapped in our minds? Is it a relative space or an absolute one? Definitely a constructed space, wether by the uses or by others where we just inhabit them for particular moments of the day. Thinking about the issues that came up in this category, i.e. sense of belonging and how the digital would take away that sense of belonging to the institution, fear to privacy, vulnerability, anxiety, etc. I realise how present this space is for people. More than using a particular tool, it is about what happens in that space where one interacts with others. How do people feel in those spaces and what they do in order to make a good and nurturing experience out of it. Boundaries are really unclear and blurred between virtual and physical spaces very much in context with the liquid metaphor Bauman describes in his characterisation of modernity. Liquid against solid he says. For liquid time is crucial.

(…)liquid unlike solids, cannot easily hold their shape. Fluids, so to speak, neither fix space nor bind time. While solids have clear spatial dimensions but neutralize the impact and thus downgrade the significance of time, fluids do not keep to any shape for long and are constantly ready (and prone) to change it; and so for them it is the flow of time that counts, more than the space they happen to occupy; that space, after all, they fill but ‘for a moment’

I am exploring this metaphor of ‘liquid’ to find words and metaphors to describe and characterise today’s society. A particular aspect Bauman points at is the extraordinary mobility of fluids and he says it is what associates them with the idea of lightness thus with mobility, ease to travel, to move, which definitely is one of those aspects very much present in nowadays society. While writing this I cannot stop thinking how there is a wide gap between different groups within society. There is a large sector that is not described by these aspects, basically a big chunk of disadvantage people living in places where many of the advantages (or disadvantages) of the advances of technology have had little impact.

  • The practical activity was related with a benchmarking tool she is developing. We had a table discussion trying to come up with benchmarks for the new category, digital wellbeing.
  • Next session was on digital leadership –> This need is emerging every where in HEI. Jisc will offer a blended course for people interested in this role. HE and FE need to invest in digital literacy policy. University of Reading is creating a whole new department that will be able to realise their vision in relation to the digital landscape and how best to succeed in it. As part of this talk was Reading University telling us the story of how they are addressing their digital leadership story. An interesting infographic from RSA shows a classification in relation to how people feel in the digital world; 30% of the interviews are “safety firsters” which means they can use internet for their daily entertainment and activities but can be more vulnerable to technological fast change pace; 20% feel are “held back, that means they would like to use technology to turn their ideas into reality but feel unconfident and frustrated and an 11% are confident creatives, feeling at ease in a rapid changing technology environment being able to turn their ideas into businesses through technology. They develop knowledge, creativity and social capital using new technology (Here the link to the webpage with more info and the link to download the complete report)
  • Creating a culture of partnership was all about the university and FE colleges working with students as partners in different activities

To take home basically is the work of Helen Beetham in relation to students’ digital experience and how important it is to address the different aspects of digital literacy within the university. How can the university address and improve the digital experience of students and of staff as well; which is basically the aim of my research, finding ways to enhance the digital experience of students embedding within one of their modules a personal learning environment as a workbench to create their dissertation in the last year of ed studies. Looking at what digital literacy means for them, if they think there is a real need to improve their digital literacy and capability; how do they see or what are their views on PLEs, what are their needs, views and ideas in relation to embedding a digital environment designed and customised by them in their learning experience as the default space to work and co-create knowledge and resources.

This tweet was my favorite one and it says much better all of what we and the speakers were trying to explain